Phil Quin on the feral opposition to dissent in Labour

Phil Quin writes about the feral opposition to dissent within Labour.

In my plagiarism posts, I presented several examples of Curran lifting entire sections from magazine articles and inserting them without attribution in a Labour Party policy paper. Neither Curran nor anyone else in Labour disputed my account. By contrast, when calling my column “fiction” and me “very bitter”, Curran failed to produce a scintilla of evidence to support either claim.  Just another baseless ad hominem attack. Ho hum..

This happens every time without fail.  Some outlet or other publishes something from me that contains criticism of the Labour Party because I am genuinely exasperated by its unrelenting incompetence, and fearful that New Zealand is on the cusp of becoming a one-party state.  The response from Labour is never to dispute the facts as I lay them out, or even to question my interpretation. I am simply attacked for being “bitter”.

For those who don’t know the provenance of this line of attack, it is this: I was shunned from Labour after my role in a doomed coup attempt against Helen Clark in 1996, and I’ve apparently yet to recover from the resulting sense of emotional and professional injury.  In this account, I have spent the past 20 years in a state of broiling resentment at no longer having a job in the Labour Research Unit.

In Labour people aren’t allowed to change their views, have to subscribe to group think and if they don’t then they get run out of town on a rail. Good people have left Labour because of attitudes like these.

While I readily concede that calling me “bitter” every time I open my mouth is as good an insult as any, it doesn’t have the added benefit of being even remotely true.  Given everything that’s happened since, how can anyone seriously believe I have the reserves of cognitive or emotional energy to conjure feelings of bitterness – or any feelings at all, come to think of it – from events two decades ago?

So why do people chose the ad hominem attack over engaging on the substance of arguments to which they object?  After all, I cop a fraction of what others with unfashionable views endure on a daily basis.  Sadly, personal vilification in lieu of argument is a ubiquitous feature of the modern discourse.

[…]

[T]he problem for Labour is that they call in the attack dogs each and every time. All dissent amounts to apostasy.  Every critic must be acting in bad faith: they are embittered over a factional stoush twenty years ago; they harbour ulterior motives; they’re on someone’s payroll.  The impact on people like me who cop the abuse is neither here nor there; what should worry Labour supporters is that an ethos that delegitimises dissent makes reform impossible – and that, without reform, the party’s future looks very bleak indeed.

Quin is dead right, unfortunately good people like him are being ignored in Labour.

The truly funny thing is though, people like Phil Quin, Josie Pagani and Nick Leggett are further to the right than Nikki Kaye and other wets in National. They’d be right at home there if it wasn’t for their loyalty to a party that left them a rather long time ago.

 

– Phil Quin


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